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Blog • 17 Aug 2020

Spotlight on women in mining: meet dudu dlamini

Spotlight on women in mining: meet dudu dlamini

August is Women's Month, and we're delighted to introduce some of the phenomenal women working at Exxaro. In a historically male-dominated industry, these women are steadily paving the way for many others to also have a bright future in mining. We are extremely proud to have these talented women on our team.

Dudu Dlamini is currently a Geologist at Exxaro’s Matla Coal Mine. She manages the coal resource value chain in support of mining operations, grade control, coal seam control and beneficiation. In addition to this, she coordinates the optimal use and sourcing of appropriate coal resources to customer specifications.

Dudu decided to study science after her dreams of being a doctor slipped away as a result of her dislike of blood. “I have always been interested in the physical structure and substance of the earth, their history, and the processes which act on them,” Dudu explained.

After joining the mining industry, she was immediately confronted with the fact that mining is a male-dominated environment and not conducive for a woman in many ways. Her male counterparts tended to undermine her capabilities.

“To try and overcome this, I did a course on emotional intelligence and conflict resolution. This has assisted me in fighting my battles within the industry. Knowing that hard work and perseverance will help me to achieve greater things in life has been my biggest driving force,” she added.

As a result, her male colleagues see her as feminist because of the passion she has for women empowerment.

Dudu is impressed to see how women have started taking on more managerial roles within Exxaro, but she believes that more work needs to be done if women are to push through to higher levels. There must be willpower from top management to drive this agenda, and fast-tracking programmes to accelerate appointments of women in senior positions need to be robust.

She also thinks that coaching, mentoring, and leadership programmes need to focus more on soft skills (like EQ) for senior positions as the technical portions are often over-emphasised. “There needs to be a drive for courses such as Unconscious Bias and Leadership in the Connection Economy (LCE).”

Her advice for young women is to “position themselves to enter the labour market as suppliers of opportunities and not to seek employment. Young women wanting to pursue a career in Geology must have the ability to do extensive field work, have the passion for the environment and geological setup. Excellent grades for Mathematics and Science are key. Geology qualification can offer many opportunities in both public and private sector (mining/exploration companies). Young women should evaluate all the options available before deciding to study Geology. Networking will go a long way- use technology to build the professional network and to gain insight on Geology. Upon completion of the qualification, young women should position themselves to enter the labour market as suppliers of opportunities. Use the qualification to source more natural resources within the borders of the country and find innovative ways to optimize resources that we are currently exploiting.

In 2019, Exxaro was named the winner in the Top Gender-Empowered Organisation: Resources category at the Standard Bank Top Women of the Year Awards. The occasion celebrates South African public and private sector organisations that prioritise gender empowerment within their business, and have a significant and growing number of women succeeding at all levels within the company.

Exxaro supports the skills development and growth of women in mining. Since the 2018 Integrated Report, records show that 40% of Exxaro’s young Professionals-In-Training are women, while 36% of our bursars are female.